COUGH, cough, hrumph, cough! Pardon me…
You might recall me mentioning that I once thought Jo Nesbø was a woman. And Danish. I can still just about visualise the Danish Jo, but this image has half disappeared with the rather charming publicity photo of the handsome male and Norwegian Jo.
People frequently tell me they like my honesty. I frequently worry about being too dishonest at times. I shall worry no more.
I was a bit surprised at the news that Jo was having an on-train signing session as he travelled from Manchester to Glasgow and Stirling on Saturday. Fans on the 09.41 Pendolino from Preston could just toddle along and get their books signed. But why not? He was on his way to sign at Waterstones in Glasgow, before coming to Bloody Scotland, where he was the star attraction of the evening. Why not cover a few more angles of that stardom?
Jo filled the Albert Halls, with fans sitting upstairs as well as down in the stalls. He had Peter Guttridge as his chair, so it was all set up to be the perfect evening. Bloody Scotland’s Lin Anderson was sitting in my row. Peter began by listing all the impressive things you might say about Jo, before the man himself came on stage for his superstar reception.
He used to play football. I think Jo even claimed to have played in Inverkeithing (although that could be my hearing), before he got knees like mine and had to give it up. The team didn’t like him. He just scored goals. Now that he’s more famous they praise him for having been a really good player.
(Here I thought it was getting a little boring with all the background. Peter clearly heard my thoughts, because he promised we’d get to the books. He just didn’t say when.)
After the football came the rock band career. The band got better and better until at some point venues and audiences actually wanted to hear them play. The others in the band played full time, while Jo had to have a day job. So he stock-brokered. He did his money job by day, and flew out to gigs by night.
My thoughts at this point was that book tours must seem like a holiday compared to that.
Henning Mankell was name-dropped. Harry Hole got a mention. Or at least we were told how to pronounce the name correctly. But we still didn’t seem to be quite ready for book talk.
I did some calculations. Assuming the hour was to be divided up in the normal fashion, we’d used half the time on the non-book background, mainly being told what a fantastic person Jo is. I suspect that most of the audience agreed. It could be why they’d come. If they were readers/fans they probably also knew a lot of the background already, so it was a waste of time.
Peter Guttridge is one of my favourite chair people, and I admire his work a lot. I don’t know what happened here, but it suddenly seemed to me I could use my evening better than fawning over this surprisingly un-charming writer. So I left.
Not sure if I was alone in my cantankerous-ness, I compared notes with one of Jo’s fervent admirers, to see what he thought of his hero ‘in action.’ I apologise for his language, but the words ‘arrogant’ and ‘t*t’ appeared very close together. I would never say anything like that, obviously, but this was one disappointed reader, who has resolved never to try to meet a hero ever again.
Thinking back, I rather miss the Danish woman I called Jo Nesbø. She was friendly, and a happy sort, despite being a professional killer.
(If you’re near Dublin, you can form your own opinion tonight, when Jo talks to Bookwitch favourite Declan Burke.)